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Mold vs. Mildew

Mildew and mold are similar in many ways. In fact mildew is a type of mold. In common parlance, what is described as "mold" and what is described as "mildew" are generally differentiated by texture and color. Sometimes people use the designation "mildew" to denote mold that is at an earlier stage of growth and, therefore, possibly less harmful and less likely to damage to your home.

What Is the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?


The word mildew is used to refer to different types of molds and fungi. In fact, as already noted, the terms mold and mildew often used interchangeably or even together.


What Is Mold?


Molds are microscopic fungi that grow from microscopic spores that are released into the air. Molds will grow almost anywhere there is organic matter and moisture. For this reason, they commonly occur both inside and outside of our homes.


Molds play an important role in the ecosystem by breaking down dead organic matter and releasing the nutrients back into the soil. But this natural process can also happen on your ceilings, walls, shower curtains, bathroom tiles, carpets, and other areas around your home.


When that happens it is no longer a useful natural process but a nuisance that can be unsightly, cause damage to your home, and, even, have a detrimental affect on you and your family members. When that happens, it is time call in a professional mold remediation service like Pure Air North Carolina.


What Is Mildew?


Mildew tends to grow on flat surfaces within your home. These surfaces commonly include windowsills, shower walls, and other places that are frequently damp. Mildew is often considered to be an early stage mold and as such the effects on your property and health are less severe.


Mildew generally grows in flat patterns and has a powdery or fluffy appearance.

Mildew tends to grow on the surface and is unlikely to cause more than cosmetic damage to your property as long as you catch and treat the issue as quickly as possible.


What Causes Mold & Mildew?


Mold and mildew spores are almost always present in the environment, but they require certain conditions in order to grow. This conditions include the right temperature, adequate moisture, and organic material (which serves as food for the mold).


Roof leaks, moisture from damp basements or crawlspaces, leaking plumbing, and high room humidity can all serve to create the conditions that allow mold and mildew to grow in your home.


Where do Mold and Mildew Commonly Grow?


Mold and mildew commonly grow in areas that are damp and dark. They also tend to thrive wherever there has been flooding or a plumbing leak as well as in areas of the home that routinely experience high humidity levels (e.g. bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry rooms).


Can You Tell if Mold is Toxic Just by Its Color?


While color can play a role in identifying a particular variety of mold, color alone does not tell the entire story. One of the most commonly found black-colored molds in homes is Cladosporium. While heavy exposure to this mold could trigger allergy or asthma symptoms in some people, it is not, despite its black color, the toxic mold that most people have in mind when they are speaking about "Black Mold" (that mold is the highly toxic mold known as Stachybotrys chartarum). Therefore, it is best to have a professional mold inspector take samples to identify the particular mold under consideration.


The Health Issues Associated With Mold & Mildew


As mentioned mold can cause both structural damages to your home and cause occupants to develop health problems Health issues associated with mold vary dramatically depending on both the type of mold and the individual's sensitivity. Young children, people with pre-existing conditions, and those with mold sensitivities are most likely to suffer the most, whereas other individual's may notice few, if any, effects. Symptoms caused by mold exposure can include:

  • Coughing or sneezing

  • A blocked or runny nose

  • Irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat

  • Dry, itchy skin

  • Headaches

  • Tiredness and lethargy

  • Anxiety and insomnia

For those with a mold allergy or asthma these symptoms can worsen and cause shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness of the chest. Mold has even been shown to cause the onset of asthma in young children.


As mildew is a type of mold, it generally has the same health effects as mold. The symptoms are caused by breathing in, or coming into contact with, the spores. So, if someone in your household is experiencing these symptoms, and you cannot identify the cause, it would be a good idea to consider having your home inspected for mold and mildew.


How to Deal With Mold & Mildew in Your Home


If you notice mold or mildew growing in your home, you will want to get rid of it as quickly as possible as well as take steps to deal with any underlying issues in order to prevent it from coming back.


Tips to Prevent Mold & Mildew


As with most things undesirable conditions, prevention is to be preferred over treatment. This is especially true when it comes to mold and mildew. The following is a list of things you can do to help prevent mold and mildew in your home.

  1. Keep surfaces dry (especially in the bathroom and kitchen and around window sills that suffer from condensation).

  2. Get a dehumidifier. If you have high humidity then using a dehumidifier can make a big difference in the amount of moisture in your home.

  3. Open windows to keep air circulating.

  4. Check and change your HVAC filters regularly.

  5. Inspect regularly for mold and mildew. Both mold and mildew are easier to get rid of if you spot them right away. Therefore, inspect possible problem areas regularly.

  6. Wipe up spills or leaks immediately. This can be especially important on carpet or upholstery.

  7. Keep surfaces clean. Mold and mildew feed on organic matter and that includes dead skin cells that settle as dust around our homes.

How to Remove Mold & Mildew


If you have discovered mold or mildew in your home, you should take steps to remove it as quickly and effectively as possible. If you are sensitive to mold or have discovered a large quantity of mold or mildew, the best course of action may be to call a professional who specializes in mold removal in order to make sure that you address the issue safely and efficiently.


Once you have removed the mold or mildew, you need to identify the cause of the problem to make sure it does not reoccur.


If in doubt it is always best to call a professional mold remediation company because disturbing mold can cause it to spread (thereby making the problem even worse).

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